NEWTOWN — The Economic Development Commission, meeting Tuesday, July 21, heard from Chair Cramer Owen, who reported a summary of his conversation with representatives from the Hubbard Foundation, learning of their desire to install the driveway that would be needed to access 6 Commerce Rd.

The foundation is in the process of getting quotes and is committed to this investment.

Mr. Owen noted the town has no budget for a driveway and plans to hold conversations with town officials.

A driveway would make 6 Commerce Rd. more attractive as the town looks to sell the piece of land for future development.

The foundation would like to recover half the cost of the driveway when the town sells the property and Mr. Owen found that idea reasonable.

He added that the current Covid-19 restrictions on activities have slowed activity in this area, but he is moving forward with the legwork that needs to be done prior to hiring a real estate agent.

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance and the Legislative Council must approve an offering price and list the property.

Referring to the branding project, Commissioner Valerie Fallon explained that her subgroup had selected Haven Creative in North Carolina for its experience.

They had produced market research with a survey and phone interviews with key stakeholders such as commissioners. Residents were invited to participate via social media and approximately 500 people responded.

Haven Creative produced a document that will be shared with the Economic Development Commission and a recommendation for the branding of Newtown.

The branding includes images such as a logo and a voice for an economic development initiative to attract businesses to town.

Ms. Fallon found the design to be more contemporary than expected and briefly touched on survey results, which she said validates perceptions.

Green space, education and charm were huge draws along with events such as the Labor Day parade.

A full presentation will be made at during a special commission meeting in early August.

Christal Preszler, deputy director, economic and community development, complemented Ms. Fallon’s contributions and professional expertise as she kept the project focused.

Ms. Preszler noted that the presentation will include recommendations on how to roll out the branding and she expects another survey in six months to gauge the impact of this work.

She felt the timing was ideal and would like to keep the effort moving.

Ms. Preszler and Kimberly Chiappetta, economic and community development and Fairfield Hills Coordinator, reported on grants that are in place to support work in town such as the water and sewer project at Fairfield Hills and affordable housing.

Ms. Preszler pointed out that the November ballot could contain a question that would allow housing on campus, with Legislative Council crafting the wording, and commented that this option may be the only option for the buildings other than demolition.

The Economic and Community Development Department will apply for a Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant to fund a heritage trail in Sandy Hook, using the funds for a paved parking lot and some utilities.

Business promotions that were put on hold during the lockdown have resumed and Ms. Preszler will resume her work to feature them on social media.

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